In the latest episodes of The Chopra Well’s 30 Days of Intent, Iman and Natalie experience therapy sessions with counselor Alyssa Nobriga, focusing on the difficult path to self-love and acceptance. Iman bravely recognizes the role he played in a recent traumatic breakup, saying, “It’s hard to forgive myself.” Natalie criticizes herself for missing several key passes, which, she says, ultimately marked the end of her professional soccer career.
Both struggle with self-acceptance in the face of these regrets, a feeling to which many can probably relate. Does self-love mean loving all of it – the faults and failures, too? To echo Natalie’s words in the previous episode, “How do you love the parts of yourself that are most misbehaving?” Better just to love our friends, our family, anybody else, than to spend too much time trying to fall in love with the one person we know best… Right?
“You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.”
You have undoubtedly heard this statement or something like it before. Society is quick to dole out such pockets of wisdom, especially to young people struggling with self-esteem. But honestly, doesn’t it sound like a bit of a threat? After all, it can be easier to love outwardly rather than turn that focus inward. We know ourselves better than anyone else, will spend more time with the self than any other person in our lives. But this depth of understanding and rapport means we also have an intimate knowledge of our own faults, fears, and mistakes. Now add to that the notion that we might not be loving others as fully as we could, just for a lack of self-love, and we might start feeling guilty, too.
Reality check… Love is love. If you feel it, then it’s most likely real. So don’t worry on that front. But that doesn’t mean self-love has no place in the equation. As Deepak Chopra would probably tell you, we are all expressions of consciousness, comprised of the same possibility waves that make up the entire universe. To know the self is to know the world; and to love the self is to love all of creation. Consider the aspects of yourself you can’t stand, the ones that get in the way of total self-acceptance. Would you love your spouse or mother or child in spite of those very same faults? Might you not even love the faults, themselves, for making that special person so beautiful and unique in your eyes?
Try this exercise:
Place two chairs facing one another, and sit in one of them. Here, you are the neutral “Self,” the one you embody most of the time. Describe the difficulty you have loving yourself, as though you’re talking to a friend. Maybe there is an old wound or regret you can’t metabolize. Maybe there is some bad habit or quirk you can’t shake, or something in your physical appearance you aren’t satisfied with. Lay it all out.
Now move to the opposite chair and sit down. Here, you are the “Best Friend,” who resides within you all the time, even if you don’t always hear her voice. From the perspective as a friend, respond to what you just said in the other chair. Tell the “Self” why she is beautiful and strong and perfect in your eyes. Explain to her why these “faults” make her who she is, and why you love the whole package.
Move to the other chair again. Did you hear what the “Best Friend” said? Continue in this way back and forth between the chairs, taking on these two perspectives, until you really take in what the “Best Friend” has to say. Let us know how it goes!
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